Due to the growing list of recalled food products containing ground cumin or cumin powder that may contain undeclared peanut protein, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising people who are highly allergic to peanuts to consider avoiding such products. In a consumer advice page posted Wednesday afternoon, the agency noted that “some shipments of these products have tested positive for undeclared peanut protein.” FDA further stated that the ground cumin may be sold as a spice, in a spice mix or kit, or as a minor ingredient when used in finished food products such as soups and chilies. “Most finished products are expected to have low amounts of ground cumin, and therefore low amounts of peanut protein. Products made before 2014 are unlikely to contain the affected ground cumin,” the site stated. At the bottom of the page, FDA posted a partial list of recalled products containing cumin and may contain undeclared peanut protein. Additional recalls involving meat and poultry products containing cumin and may contain undeclared peanut protein have been announced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and can be found here. “The FDA is continuing to identify companies that received shipments of the ground cumin that contained undeclared peanuts and work with them to remove these products from the market. While this investigation is underway, the FDA wants consumers who are highly allergic or sensitive to peanuts to consider taking precautions with any product—not just those that have been recalled—that contains ground cumin. The FDA will continue to update the list of recalled products,” the agency stated. FDA suggested that consumers with severe peanut allergies and their caregivers should:
- Review the list of recalled products and avoid these foods. They include ground cumin, seasoning mixes, and a variety of cooking “kits” which include “Tex-Mex” and Indian dishes.
- When choosing a food, review the ingredients panel. Products such as soups or chilies that contain only small amounts of the affected ground cumin may not contain enough peanut protein to trigger a reaction in most peanut-allergic people. However, people who are highly sensitive to peanuts may consider avoiding products that list “cumin.”
- Realize that if the ingredients panel lists “spices,” it may or may not contain ground cumin. People who are highly sensitive to peanuts may want to call the manufacturer to find out if the product contains cumin powder.
- If symptoms of an allergic reaction occur, such as shortness of breath, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, or hives, stop eating the product and seek immediate medical care or advice.
- If an allergic reaction occurs, you can contact your local FDA consumer complaint coordinator. Go here to find yours.
In response to FDA’s consumer advisory, McCormick & Company Inc. released a statement Thursday noting that none of the company’s products are involved in the recent recalls. “Due to the FDA Consumer Advisory and increased attention surrounding peanut contamination of cumin in the marketplace, we want to assure the public that no McCormick products are involved. This includes all ground cumin, cumin seed, and seasonings that contain cumin like Taco Seasoning Mix and Chili Powder,” said Roger Lawrence, McCormick’s corporate vice president of global quality assurance. The statement further noted that McCormick only uses whole cumin seed, does not handle any peanut materials in facilities where its cumin seeds are cleaned and ground, treats its spices with a steaming process and inspects every lot for “extraneous matter.”